As fate would have it, the journalistic gods threw a little instant karma my way this morning.
Yesterday, I turned in a column about the subpar breakfast experiences we have had since beginning this yearlong journey almost a month ago.
We have stayed in five-star hotels, local mom-and-pop inns, and on ships in the Aegean sea. So far, no breakfast has inspired us.
Until this morning.
We are spending two nights near Meteora, Greece at the Hotel Dellas. We love this property. It meets all of our Eating Europe lodging requirements:
3.) Adequate beds
4.) Free WiFi in the room
7.) Good food
Clean and safe need no explanation, though– over here– that’s not always a given.
When it comes to the sleeping arrangements, we try to sleep four in one room. Some hotels make us purchase two rooms which doubles my daily lodging budget— not good. In the states we have no problem getting a room with two queen-sized beds. Over here, it’s not common. We have learned to ask for a “family room.”
Free WiFi seems like a no-brainer, as we have free WiFi everywhere back home. One can sit in a Whataburger fast-food restaurant in the U.S. and get free WiFi. Not so in Europe. You can be in a five-star hotel and still have to pay for wireless internet access. On the cruise ship we had to purchase one-hour access cards at 15 euros a piece– ripoff.
We have to have access to WiFi because the kids are homeschooling with Jill, and I am writing and blogging. In addition to that, it’s a great way for all of us to keep in touch with our friends back home. When we were in Ostuni, Italy, WiFi was only available in the lobby. Everyone had to take their laptop down to the lobby and hang out on a sofa near the front desk for 4-5 hours each day while we completed our work.
Hotels can be expensive over here. We have to stay within our daily-lodging budget for the year. Most hotels include breakfast as part of the package, that helps. But everything else is so expensive, we have a certain amount of money I have budgeted for each day. We have to stick to the budget. If we blow the day’s budget on one night in a hotel, then we can’t eat at restaurants (which is why I am here in the first place).
Accessibility is important because we (and when I say “we,” I mean the two girls) are carrying so much luggage (read: too much luggage) that we (the girls) need to gain access the car on occasion (back-up clothing stash). The little Volvo SUV has a clam-shell luggage carrier on top, so when we are in big cities, we can’t park in garages– a HUGE challenge. This is why we were towed at the port of Piraeus.
In Bologna, our hotel was adjacent to a park and the hotel had secure, open-air parking. Perfect. I don’t expect to see that often, though. In Rome we are going to have to park at a secure lot outside of the city for the week, and use public transportation– no problem there, we just hope the car will be safe.
At these small country inns, such as the Hotel Dellas, we can park directly in front of the hotel, and the area is extremely safe.
Food is listed last for a reason. Granted, I am over here writing two books on food, but we don’t intend to eat lunch or dinner in hotels, ever. The plan is to get out and eat what the locals eat, where the locals eat. Having a free breakfast is a bonus. Having a great-tasting breakfast– such as the one we enjoyed this morning at Hotel Dellas– is a wonderful surprise.
www.hotels.com has been a lifesaver. I have found great deals at perfect properties on this site and I highly recommend it. That is how we found this property.
Today’s breakfast was perfect. I’m not looking for the same type breakfast we eat in the states. That would defeat the purpose of the book. I want to eat like (and with) the locals. I just want to eat well.
This morning our hotel offered something different that the standard European breakfast buffet– local food. Nice.
The freshly squeezed orange juice wasn’t as good as The Royal Olympic Hotel’s in Athens, but Hotel Dellas’ mixed fruit juice was excellent, and some of the best I have tasted.
The yogurt in Greece is creamier (and seems to be more whipped) than the American variety– tasty. Jill ate her usual Greek yogurt-granola-honey breakfast (using the wild mountain honey) and said it was the best she has eaten, so far– maybe ever.
The owners of the hotel, Maria and Antonio Dellas, are a husband and wife team. He works the front desk, and she was manning the breakfast room, though I suspect they each have various job responsibilities throughout the property.
We had another great experience at a family-run hotel in Greece– The Hotel Europa in Olympia. The common denominator was that the entire family worked in the property. The rule is the same back home. I don’t know if I have ever been to the Mayflower in downtown Jackson when one of the Kountouris’ weren’t manning the register. Nick Apostle has the most impressive work ethic of anyone I know.
We look forward to another night at Hotel Dellas, and especially another breakfast.